June 6, 2023

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Massive Russian attacks across Ukraine kill at least six

The biggest Russian strikes in Ukraine in recent weeks killed at least six people on Thursday and left part of the population without power and the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

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Russia says it carried out the bombings, particularly with the help of new Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, qualifying it as “revenge” for the March 2 incursion into its territory by Ukrainian “saboteurs”.

At the same time, pro-Russian separatists from Transdniestria in Moldova said Kyiv had thwarted a planned attack against its leaders, raising fears of fresh tensions in the volatile region in Ukraine’s southwest.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned Russia’s “vicious tactics” after it struck nine regions of the country and its capital, Kiev, targeting energy infrastructure.

According to the Ukrainian military, anti-aircraft defenses shot down 34 of 81 missiles launched by Moscow and four Iranian-made Shahed explosive drones.

Since October, after several military setbacks, Russia has continued to bomb Ukraine’s key energy facilities with missiles and drones, plunging millions into darkness and cold.

These strikes have been few and far between in recent weeks. But on Thursday, Ukrainian officials said the missiles had targeted ten areas in the east, south and west, as well as in Kiev, before dawn.

In Lviv region (west), the governor announced that at least five people were killed in shootings in a residential area, while the governor of Dnipro region (central east) told him that a 34-year-old man had been killed. .

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Russian artillery also shelled Kherson (south), killing two people at a traffic stop and a third in a nearby shop, local officials said.

Igor Derekov, the mayor of the northeastern city of Kharkiv near the Russian border, announced that the entire city was without electricity, water and heat.

“Russia is trying to completely destroy Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, and that’s why we have to give (it) what to defend itself,” EU diplomacy chief Joseph Borrell responded from Stockholm.

Risk of nuclear accident

Ukrainian operator Energoatom announced that the massive Zaporijjia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, occupied by the Russian military, was cut off from the Ukrainian electricity grid on Thursday after a Russian strike.

“We are playing with fire and if we allow this situation to continue, one day our fortunes will change,” warned Rafael Croci, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

According to Energoatom, the Ukrainian operator said Russian “missile attacks” led to the last line connecting the plant still to the grid being cut, and emergency diesel generators were turned on to ensure minimum safety systems.

But the operator warned of the risk of a nuclear accident if external power was not supplied.

The Russian occupation administration confirmed the introduction of these diesel generators, but indicated that the move was linked to a “short circuit” in another power line, without specifying the reason.

In Kyiv, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko reported several explosions in the south and then west of the city, where police said at least three people were injured.

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On Prospekt Peremoguy, west of the capital, three cars parked near a high-rise apartment building caught fire, an AFP reporter noted, and several other cars were damaged.

“There was a very strong explosion,” testified 60-year-old Igor Izhov, who evacuated the building with his wife. “When it happens so close to you, it’s really a feeling of dread.”

The military administration said 40% of users in the capital lost heat. Preventive blackouts, according to officials, are still in place in some neighborhoods.

A power outage was also reported in the Odesa region (southwest).

Tensions in Transnistria

In Moldova, pro-Russian separatists in Transdniestria vowed on Thursday that Ukraine wanted to launch an attack on the center of their capital, Traspol, to “destroy” their leaders and cause “massive casualties”.

Moldova and the West continue to accuse Moscow of using Transnistria to further destabilize neighboring Ukraine.

The accusations and large-scale strikes come as the 27 EU defense ministers meet in Stockholm on Wednesday with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov to negotiate a plan to supply Kiev with shells and ammunition that could increase to two billion. Euros.

Also, in eastern Ukraine, the battle for the symbolic city of Bagmouth continues to rage.

Evgeny Prigojine, the boss of the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner, said Thursday that his fighters had captured the small village of Doubovo-Vassilivka, north of Bakhmout, after announcing the previous day that they had captured the eastern part of the city.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Wednesday that the Pact could collapse “in the coming days”, however, adding that “this does not necessarily reflect any turning point in the war”.

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